Collaboration – The Most Important Part of Creating Change

Marketing Management and Leadership.pngEarly this century, I took the day off from work to apply to business school [no, I am not afraid to publicly admit my age]. Naturally, while I was procrastinating and checking my email, my roommate sent me an email with the subject line “turn on TV.” It was 9/11 – my world had changed.

Fast forward 14 years: In October 2015, my friends and I arrived at the LMA Leadership Conference. First item on the agenda – LMA regionalization – my association had changed. Calendar flips to 2016: Barely into the new year and my parents call; my grandma is not well and we need to move her to a home where she can get the assistance she needs – my family had changed. Two months later: I am visiting my grandma, not in the home of my childhood memories, but in her new home. I call in for a team meeting and learn there will be new leadership in my department – my work had changed.

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Have you experienced situations like this? At work, have you had new department leadership, new firm leadership, or a department restructure? Have you experienced change in your in your personal life? As a professional community, we are experiencing change as we reorganize into the new LMA structure.

With change all around me, I began wondering how can I navigate it and what is the most important part of the process. Well, those business school applications that were supposed to be started on 9/11 were eventually completed, and UNC Business School and I selected each other. The first module that was assigned to the class was Change Leadership. What sounded like a fluff class to me became my most important business framework.

We studied John Kotter’s 8-Stage Process for Creating Major Change*. The process can be broken down into three phases with an important “piece of glue” – collaboration.


Phase 1: Defrost Status Quo – The first phase includes four stages to get firms and employees ready for change. Thought is given to why and how change will happen, and is communicated broadly.


Phase 2: Create New Practices – The second phase is what people think of when they think of change. It includes three stages involving collaboration to create and implement new processes and wins. Successes must be publicly recognized.


Phase 3: Solidify New Culture – The last phase and stage anchors the new culture by communicating the results and successes via metrics and data to show why the changes work and ensure that the new processes stick.

This is a lovely framework, but change is still hard and scary. When navigating change, it is most important to keep your team momentum going via collaboration. By working with others who are engaged and invested in creating change, you can produce bigger and bigger wins, generate new ideas, and be accountable to each other. You can draw energy from each other, while also having fun.

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In this issue, the LMA Mid-Atlantic Newsletter Committee worked together to focus on the most important part of the change process – collaboration. The committee shares methods and approaches to team collaboration with colleagues and external vendor partners, as well as tools that enable working together.

Change happens. By collaborating with others you can adapt to change and enjoy the process. Change is ongoing and never ending. Always be ready to navigate it, work with others and have fun discovering new ideas and approaches.

 * “Leading Change,” by John P. Kotter, 1996, Adapted from “Why Transformation Efforts Fail,”
Harvard Business Review (March-April 1995)

 By Helena Lawrence, 2017 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region President, Senior Marketing & Business Development Manager, Orrick

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